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Priorities for the Collaboration (Flow) team

3
Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Hi everyone, here's a copy of the message from Dannyh:

For a while now, the Collaboration team has been working on Flow, the structured discussion system. I want to let you know about some changes in that long-term plan.

While initial announcements about Flow said that it would be a universal replacement for talk pages, the features that were ultimately built into Flow were specifically forum-style group discussion tools. But article and project talk pages are used for a number of important and complex processes that those tools aren't able to handle, making Flow unsuitable for deployment on those kinds of pages.

To better address the needs of our core contributors, we're now focusing our strategy on the curation, collaboration, and admin processes that take place on a variety of pages. Many of these processes use complex workarounds -- templates, categories, transclusions, and lots of instructions -- that turn blank wikitext talk pages into structured workflows. There are gadgets and user scripts on the larger wikis to help with some of these workflows, but these tools aren't standardized or universally available.

As these workflows grow in complexity, they become more difficult for the next generation of editors to learn and use. This has increased the workload on the people who maintain those systems today. Complex workflows are also difficult to adapt to other languages, because a wiki with thousands of articles may not need the kind of complexity that comes with managing a wiki with millions of articles. We've talked about this kind of structured workflow support at Wikimania, in user research sessions, and on wikis. It's an important area that needs a lot of discussion, exploration, and work.

Starting in October, Flow will not be in active development, as we shift the team's focus to these other priorities. We'll be helping core contributors reduce the stress of an ever-growing workload, and helping the next generation of contributors participate in those processes. Further development on these projects will be driven by the needs expressed by wiki communities.

Flow will be maintained and supported, and communities that are excited about Flow discussions will be able to use it. There are places where the discussion features are working well, with communities that are enthusiastic about them: on user talk pages, help pages, and forum/village pump-style discussion spaces. By the end of September, we'll have an opt-in Beta feature available to communities that want it, allowing users to enable Flow on their own user talk pages.

I'm sure people will want to know more about these projects, and we're looking forward to those conversations. We'll be reaching out for lots of input and feedback over the coming months.

Quiddity (WMF) (talkcontribs)

T​o clarify: Starting in October, Flow will be maintained; it's not being abandoned. Further work on the discussion system will need to be driven by communities voicing their desire for further work on it.

As a pattern that we're all familiar with, it's more likely that people will comment when they have negative or critical feedback, particularly at a centralized forum. While it's helpful to point out things that are not user-friendly or frustrating to use, it's also helpful for the team to know what is going well - so we can do more of it. I’d like to encourage people to speak up (here or onwiki) when there's positive feedback as well – this goes for article-editors as much as software-developers. There are people on many wikis who have been happily using Flow, but they haven't gone out of their way to broadcast that information off of their usual home wiki. What do you like about this software? Is it headed in the right direction, even if it doesn’t seem complete? Are there things about it that the Collaboration team could continue to focus on?

See also, the threads on wikitech-l and on wikimedia-l, for additional discussion.

Nizil Shah (talkcontribs)

I am really happy for efforts you people have taken.. slow but steady.. looking forward to more development.. I already use it on Wikidata and it works well there.. Beta will provide more feedback and more bugs so go ahead with your plans.. I have faith in you people.. regards

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